Pandemic: Half a million daily cases over past week

By: AFP      Published: 08:57 PM, 26 Mar, 2021
Pandemic: Half a million daily cases over past week
A health worker collects a throat swab sample from a child to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus in a special children's testing centre in Amsterdam, on March 26, 2021. AFP

More than half a million cases a day of Covid-19 were recorded worldwide over the past week, as numbers continued to rise, according to a specialised AFP database.

But in a sign that vaccines remain the answer to a pandemic that has resulted in more than 2.7 million deaths, the biggest drop in infections occurred in Israel, which has led the world with its vaccination drive.

Here is the state of play worldwide:

Half a million cases

The number of daily cases increased by 13 percent over the past week, with 523,800 recorded on average, according to an AFP tally to Thursday. The number of cases has been on the up for more than a month, after an unprecedented fall earlier in the year, when the number of infections fell by half. Despite the increase of the past weeks, figures are well off their peak of 743,600 new daily cases during the week of January 5-11.

Up, almost everwhere

On a regional level, only the United States and Canada saw a decrease in their number of cases, by eight percent, while they stabilised in the Middle East. All other regions worldwide saw an increase, including by half in Asia, 15 percent in Europe, nine percent in Latin America and the Caribbean and seven percent in Africa. The number of cases almost tripled in Oceania, due to a flare up in impoverished Papua New Guinea, which recorded an average of 300 cases per day. Its figure is no doubt underestimated due to a lack of testing.

Main spikes

Bangladesh was for the second consecutive week the country where the epidemic picked up most speed -- with 80 percent more, or 2,800 new cases -- among the countries recording more than 1,000 daily cases over the past week. India followed with 66 percent more, or 44,700 cases, the Philippines 53 percent more, or 7,400 cases, Azerbaijan, 49 per cent more or 1,100 cases, and Turkey 48 percent more or 4,200 cases. The number of confirmed cases only reflects a fraction of the actual number of infections, as different countries have varying counting practices and levels of testing.

Biggest drops

Israel again observed the biggest drop in the number of new cases, falling by more than half, or 52 percent, to 800 per day. Six Israelis out of 10 have received at least one vaccine dose and half the population the two doses necessary to achieve maximum immunity. The Czech Republic followed with 23 percent less, or 8,000 cases, Slovakia 15 percent less or 1,600, the  West Bank 12 percent less or 1,600 and the US 10 percent less, or 58,200 cases.

Brazil most cases, deaths

Brazil remained the country with the most new cases and deaths. It recorded 77,050 new cases, an increase of seven percent. The US recorded 58,200 new cases or minus 10 percent, India 44,700 (66 percent more), France 34,600 (27 percent more) and Poland 24,400 cases (27 percent more). Brazil had an average 2,280 daily deaths, before the US (1,004), Mexico (515), Italy (421) and Russia (398). On a per capita basis Estonia registered the most cases this week with 709 per 100,000 inhabitants. At a world level the number of deaths increased by four percent with 9,130 fatalities per day, but the toll is still far from the peak registered in late January when it skirted 15,000 per day.

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